Wednesday, October 10, 2012

THE BIG DAY: FEARLESS PREDICTIONS

I usually save my fearless predictions for the end of the year, but since The Big Day is happening before the end of the year, and I finished my homework at 8:00 tonight, I'm going to take the liberty of doing it now.  Since UTA released information on their final service plan for December today, I think I can do so with reasonably good authority.

As I've mentioned previously, every route in Utah County is going to change in December, and several new ones are going to pop out of the snow.  Like daisies.  That's where I'll focus my fearless predictions for now.


In the following predictions, I am going to use some very technical jargon for how full I think the bus is going to be.  Definitions follow:

  • Empty:  Nobody on the bus at all.  Or maybe one or two people, but never more than five.  Likely candidate for swift cancellation.
  • Quiet:  More than five to about half the seats full.  Meaning you don't have to share.  Not enough people on the bus for any kind of social interaction to be warranted.
  • Pleasant:  Half-full to full.  Not crowded, but you don't feel like a social outcast on an empty bus, either.  You can still find a seat, and probably have a choice of several.
  • Full:  All the seats are full; maybe a few people are standing, but not so many that it's awkward to walk around them.  But you won't get a seat if you get on too late.  The bus begins to be slowed down by the number of stops it has to make, and the number of people getting on and off.
  • Slammed:  More than 125% full (Level of Service E or F, for you nerds out there); uncomfortable to ride, well behind schedule due to sheer passenger volume.  Almost impossible to get off because you have to wade through a sea of bodies standing in front of the back door.  Likely candidate for additional service.
Like I said, very technical.  So here goes:

805.  Seeing as how this is going to be a combination of the current 805 and 808, both of which are reasonably full, this bus is going to be busy.  It's going to run more times than either bus did before, but that sometimes attracts more riders, because there are more convenient options for when to catch the bus.  There's definitely a lot of people in the south end of the county wanting to go to UVU, and I think a growing number will want to connect to FrontRunner for their northerly transportation needs.
Prediction: Pleasant, evolving to Full over the next couple of years.

806.  I don't really know much about the 806.  Really not my neck of the woods.  But the fact that the 806 is getting split up into the 806 and 809 seems to indicate that this area has promise.  Or future promise.  In any case, I think that connecting to FrontRunner instead of just downtown Salt Lake offers so many more options for our friends on the wrong side of the lake that ridership will grow considerably on the 806 and 809.  But not at first.  It might take a while.
Prediction: Pleasant.

807.  This route is taking on some other duties besides just being a commuter express now; it takes in a greater swath of local-type destinations, like the Timpanogos LDS Temple, Adobe, and IM Flash.  It's going to run both directions, instead of just north in the morning and south in the afternoon.  No, it's not going to run all day, but I still think people are going to use it for more than just work in the morning.
Prediction: Full.

809.  See comments for 806--I really have no idea how much current 806 ridership comes from Eagle Mountain.  I think the possibilities for the 809 are similar to the 806; I think things will get cooking eventually.  But people didn't move to Eagle Mountain in the first place because they loved transit.
Prediction: Quiet.

811.  The 811 keeps shrinking!  It used to stretch as far south as Spanish Fork and as far north as downtown Salt Lake.  Now it's going to go from UVU to Sandy, and I bet it shrinks again when the Draper line opens.  I predict that ridership on the 811 will decrease considerably, because, hey, why take all day on the 811 when you can take FrontRunner?  A lot of people who currently take the 811 in the middle of the day are UVU students, whose pass is good for FrontRunner.  The only people who would still take the 811 are those who happen to live close to State Street in Lehi, which is not a major constituency of the route in my experience.  But some people will still need to take local service, and the 811 will still be the only bus in the county that runs on Sundays.
Prediction: Pleasant.

821.  Finally.  Finally.  The bus will come every hour to Payson, all day long.  I have lived with the 2-hour weekday midday frequency on the 822 for years; I have dreamed of this day for most of those years.  This will make this bus much more usable for our South-county friends who previously had to camp out to catch a bus in the middle of the day.  Connecting to FrontRunner will also probably encourage new ridership, and make the route much more connected to Provo in general; you won't have to go through BYU to get everywhere else in town.  The old 822 served the BYU market well, but this 821 serves all the markets better.
Prediction: Full.

822.  Well, the bus will still go to BYU, a few times a day.  UVU commuters will be torn: do I drive to an 805 stop and get there faster, or do I catch the 822 that comes closer to my house, but takes forever?  The 822 will also be the only bus serving southeast Provo; it's a bummer for those people, but I think some of them will still use the limited 822 service to get around.  Between BYU and UVU, I think this route has a decent chance of succeeding.
Prediction: Full.

830.  Where do I start?  This route is the workhorse, the backbone, the lifeblood of transit in Utah County.  It's going to connect to FrontRunner on both ends.  It's going to go nearly everywhere you want to go.  It comes every 15 minutes.  It's already one of the busiest buses in the entire UTA system, without FrontRunner.  And it's the single fastest way to UVU from the Orem FrontRunner Station.  It's going to be insane.  They're going to need an 830X to run people to UVU and back.
Prediction: Slammed.

831.  The 831 is like that quiet, unassuming person you don't really think of as a contender at first.  It goes through BYU backwards, and it's going to start going through UVU backwards again.  It skips all the important roads in town; it makes lots of crazy turns and doubles back on itself twice.  And yet, it manages to turn in decently good numbers and avoid service cuts all the time.  Adding a FrontRunner connection and 7 Peaks Boulevard is only going to increase ridership.  I also predict that people, sick of cramming onto an 830 to get to UVU, will try the 831, especially since the 831 will stop right in front of the library, institute, etc. and the 830 will only stop at the entrance to campus.  I think the 831 will stick around for a long time.
Prediction: Pleasant/Full.

832.  The 832 used to be a heavyweight route; I used to avoid it at all costs near BYU because it was so full.  Then the BYU market collapsed, and the 832 has not borne the recession well.  The new 832 will pick up some old 833 riders around the Provo Temple, but it's giving up 300 South and 7 Peaks to the 831, and Riverwoods to the 834 and 842.  I think the 832 will stick around for a long time too, but it's definitely not a big deal anymore.
Prediction: Quiet.

833.  I like this new 833.  It connects a whole side of Provo that had abysmal or no service before.  It is new, so it will take a while to catch on, but it's more of a city route than the others I've said that about, it will run all day, and it will connect to pretty much every other route in Provo/Orem, so I think it has a good chance of succeeding.
Prediction: Quiet/Pleasant.

834.  I like this new 834.  It also provides service to a new area of Provo; one that will probably not attract many residents, but will attract workers at the many offices over that way.  It's also a much faster connection from South Provo to Riverwoods than the current 832.
Prediction: Pleasant.

836.  This route seems to mainly exist to take people to FrontRunner and back.  It will only run a few trips a day, so it might not capture as many riders as it could if it ran all day, but the trip to the FrontRunner station is short enough that I think we'll see a few people even on day one.  Whether it grows from there, or gets subsumed back into another route in a few years, is anyone's guess.
Prediction: Quiet.

842.  I like that this route goes down Geneva.  I like that it goes down 800 North.  I like that it goes to Riverwoods.  But we are talking about Orem here.  This route could go either way.  It could revitalize transit in North Orem, or it could fall into somber step beside the 862.  I think some people will prefer this route to the 834 to get to Riverwoods from FrontRunner; I'm not sure if people that live over that way would want to catch this bus to get to FrontRunner to go somewhere else.  For now, I'll play it safe.
Prediction: Quiet.

850.  This route isn't changing all that much, except that it will be going into the FrontRunner station in American Fork, and it will be back on Main Street in Lehi.  The 850 is already a highly successful route; I don't think the changes are going to drive people away, and they will probably attract more people.  As long as it's on time.
Prediction: Full.

853.  I'm going to go out on a complete limb here and say that Adobe and IM Flash employees are going to salivate at the chance to commute from elsewhere on FrontRunner and cram onto this bus to get to work.  Eventually people have to get sick of that freeway!
Prediction: Full.

862.  Oh, 862, 862.  What are we going to do with you?  The 862 has never been a spectacular performer at the best of times.  I'm genuinely surprised when I see more than about two people on it.  I don't see ridership growing too much on the 862 (no FrontRunner connection); in fact, it may lose ridership due to competition with the 842.  When gas prices went up a couple years ago, even the 862 had more people on it, though.  It could grow, but I'm not holding my breath.
Prediction: Quiet.

I haven't written a post that long in ages.  That felt so good.

4 comments:

  1. The more I think about the 811, the more I think its southern terminus should remain as is. As it is, it's the only link between BYU and Salt Lake on Sundays. There obviously aren't too many BYU students who utilize the 811 on Sundays (heck, not even on weekdays and Saturdays), but I think that's a pretty vital link that should be maintained.

    I can see the 842 performing quite poorly on Saturdays, especially since it runs every hour and FrontRunner runs every ninety minutes. Talk about a poor connection right there. And it's Orem. But I don't know Utah County very well at all besides the area surrounding BYU, so I can't say that I'm making a very educated guess.

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    1. I don't mind the 811 cutting off at UVU most days, because there's plenty of other ways to get into town, but I do wonder about Sundays. I haven't taken the 811 on a Sunday in ages beyond ages, but I might have to try it sometime. Assuming I can get a ride to wherever I'm actually going . . .

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  2. Just when I think my days of caring deeply about the bus system in Utah county are over, I go and read this ENTIRE POST. And it interested me immensely. Good job!

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